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Common estate planning mistakes

It can be difficult for anyone to think about their death. However, when it comes to your estate, planning for your death is essential. Without taking the time to properly estate plan, you could be putting your assets and your family's financial security at risk. There are several common mistakes that people make when estate planning, Florida residents should be aware of these mistakes as they plan for their futures.

The first major type of mistake people make is not having an estate plan in place at all. If you don't have an estate plan, state law will control the distribution of your assets. This opens them up tax liability and potentially uneven distributions.

Another major mistake people make is having an estate plan but failing to get the right professional advice. An attorney, tax and financial professionals can help explain your options when it comes to estate planning. This can make sure that all the documents are properly drafted and that your family is truly protected.

People also make an estate planning mistake when they make an estate plan and then forget about it. By failing to update your estate plan after major life events -- such as births, deaths or divorces -- your estate plan can quickly take an unexpected form. Frequent updates are often necessary to make sure your wishes are carried out.

Additionally, people often make the mistake of not taking advantage of certain devices that can limit the amount of estate tax that will be due following their death. For example, people fail to use the gift exclusions or certain trusts which can have serious tax implications.

These mistakes, and others, can be eliminated with the right professional help. Those Florida residents seeking advice about estate planning should see an attorney.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Ten Common Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid," accessed Nov. 10, 2014

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